A Symptom of Worldliness: Immodest Apparel (IV)

Harry Ozment
Nashville, Tennessee

A problem which is very emblematic of worldliness is immodest apparel. We are living in an age when people are apathetic toward the idea of immodesty. I verily believe there are many people today who do not think that there is such a thing as immodesty. Christians are being tempted on every hand to relent to the ways of the world and sacrifice truth and modesty. Some Christians are succumbing to this temptation, and, as a result, worldliness is creeping into the church in many places.

Definition of Modesty

In a discussion of this subject, the question is invariably asked, "What is your definition of modesty and immodesty?" Many people try to define immodesty by how short or how fight certain clothing is. I have heard preachers who will doggedly argue that a dress 1 /16th of an inch above the knee is immodest. This is legalism to the nth degree no man can "draw a line" such as this for another individual. What is the solution to the problem then? Paul uses three words in I Tim. 2:9 to regulate a woman's adorning:

(a) "Modest" is from the Greek word "kosmios" which means "well-arranged, seemly" (Thayer).

(b) "Shamefacedness" is from the Greek word "aidom" which means "a sense of shame, modesty.., reverence would always restrain a good man from-an unworthy act" (Thayer).

(c) "Sobriety" is from the Greek word "sophrosunas" which means "reasonableness, rationality, mental soundness 7 good judgment, moderation, self-control esp7 as a feminine virtue, decency, chastity" (Arndt. Gingrich)'

From these three words, the Bible definition of modesty is made very clear: Christians should not wear clothes which call attention to certain parts of the body which will arouse erotic impulses in the opposite sex. When this unchanging principle is disobeyed, immodesty results. It is admitted that personal judgment is involved in measuring ones clothing by this regulation. However, if a Christians heart is right and his affections are in the right place, this will be no problem---the judgment will be honest and, as a result, the adornment will be modest beyond question.

Evils of Immodesty

With the correct definition of modesty in mind, we should also consider the evils of immodesty. Why should we as Christians be interested in modesty? What is wrong with immodesty--what scriptural principles does it violate? (1) Immodesty violates I Tim. 2:9-10) Paul said, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." A woman who dresses immodestly is defying outright this plain command of God. I Tim.2:9-10 is just as much a command of God as Acts 2:38 {which commands repentance and baptism).If baptism is essential to salvation, dressing modestly is just as essential.

(2) Immodesty violates Rom. 14:21. In this passage, Paul expressed a great Bible principle that should govern every part of our lives: "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, nor or is offended, or is made weak." Every Christian who loves his fellow man will obey this scripture. It is a well-known fact that women have tremendous influence over men by the way they dress. In Sam. 11:1-4 we see that David was made to commit the sin of adultery because of the immodesty of Bathsheba. However, it is also possible for a man to commit adultery in his heart. Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matt 5:27-28) Many men are guilty of this very thing because a woman did not clothe herself modestly. Yes, the man is guilty of sin, and, if there is no repentance, he will be punished--but the woman sinned also when she was responsible for the sin of the man! Every Christian woman should let this be a sober reminder when she dresses for the public eye.

(3) Immodesty Violates I Cor. 6:11. In this passage of scripture, Paul describes the manner of life for a Christian: "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." To be sanctified does not mean to be sinlessly perfect. This, of course, is impossible. "Sanctified" simply means "to be set apart." Every Christian is set apart from the world. Sadly, too many in the church are not "set apart" from the world by their dress. Paul said, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof" (Rom. 6:11-12) May God help us to this end!

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 35, pp. 10-11

July 16, 1970